So much for Alex Salmond the champion of equality

Salmond's admiration for Vladimir Putin demonstrates once again that there is nothing left-wing about the SNP, writes James Bloodworth.

Salmond’s admiration for Vladimir Putin demonstrates once again that there is nothing left-wing about the SNP, writes James Bloodworth

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond likes to portray himself as a champion of equality. Commenting on the recent promotion of two women to ministerial posts in the Scottish government, Salmond said the promotions “underline our [the SNP’s] commitment to equality, to pensions and to helping the young people of Scotland into the workplace”.

Salmond also likes to posit the SNP as a kind of left-wing alternative to Labour north of the border.

Strange, then, to find the SNP leader cosying up to the ultra-conservative Russian leader Vladimir Putin and working alongside a man who led a campaign to keep Section 28, the homophobic piece of Tory legislation which forbade councils from “promoting homosexuality”.

As reported by the Telegraph today, the first minister Salmond has said it is a “good thing” that confidence has returned to Russia. He also called the Russian president “more effective” than his portrayal by the press suggests.

By ‘confidence’ Salmond must mean the new Russian belligerence that has seen Putin invade and occupy a would-be independent nation and try to carve off chunks of its eastern flank. So much for national independence! Presumably this admiration is also why SNP figures appear so regularly on Russian state television channel RT, a station praised by BNP leader Nick Griffin for its “commitment to truth and balance”.

Despite posing as the defender of national sovereignty, when it comes to the sovereignty of Ukraine it appears the first minister’s position is not unlike that of Nigel Farage’s: the self-style defender of the nation state says the man who is trampling on Ukrainian independence is the leader he most admires. Sovereignty for some but not for others, then. Yes Salmond’s comments were pre-Crimea, but they also come long after Putin has flattened Chechnya, brutally cracked down on internal dissent and bumped off at least one political opponent.

Praising Putin in these tones is also grossly offensive to LGBT Scots. The Putin that Salmond praises as “effective” is the same Putin who has likened homosexuals to pedophiles. Putin has also said that Russia needs to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality if it wants to increase its birth rate.

And speaking of homophobes, we now learn that Stagecoach owner Brian Souter has donated £100,000 to a Christian group which is helping Salmond’s campaign for Scotland to vote Yes in September. Souter also gave the SNP £500,000 at the 2011 Holyrood election. That’s the same Brian Souter who spent £1 million on a privately funded referendum aimed at retaining legislation banning the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools, otherwise known as Section 28.

So much for Alex Salmond the champion of equality. As others have recently pointed out, there is nothing left-wing about the SNP.

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